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Special Actions Export Options Tool

It's

The "Special Actions and Export Options" utility provides you with three features to improve your ToolBook HTML export experience:

  1. Deep validation of Actions, to ensure your action sequences will export properly. Click here for the Actions Deep Validation feature.

  2. Fixing your export, as you export, so it works well with changes made to Internet Explorer in response to the EOLAS patent. Click here for the Fix Eolas - Click to activate... feature

  3. Fixing the color palettes of GIFs created during the export process, so they better reflect what you see in native ToolBook. Click here for the Exported GIF Palette Optimizer feature.

Actions Deep Validation Tool

  • Deep validation of Actions:

    • The Problem: ToolBook includes a tool to validate Actions in your book. Simply go to Tools / Actions / Validate Actions, and you can ensure all the actions in your book are valid. Or can you? The problem is, ToolBook's Validate Actions dialog doesn't look INSIDE EXPRESSIONS! This means it doesn't pick up some of the common errors that will cause your exports to fail, such as:

      1. You write some Actions that use a local variable. Later you delete the local variable, and forget to fix up the Actions that used that variable.

        Try this out:

        Open the Actions Editor for a button. Create a new local variable called "test". Add a "Display Alert" action, and set it to display the value of the variable test. Now delete the variable. Now validate the actions in your book - ToolBook says everything is AOK! Hmm, I think NOT!!

      2. You write some Actions that refer to a particular property of an object. Later, you modify the object such that that property is no longer valid.

        Try this out:

        Draw a list box and name it "test". Draw a button, and open the Actions Editor for the button. Add a "Display Alert" action, and set it to display the selectedItemText property of the list box. Now right-click the list box, select "Field Type" and change the field type to Word Wrap. Word wrap fields don't support the selectedItemText property. But validate the actions in your book - ToolBook says everything is fine and dandy!

      3. You write some Actions that refer to a property of an object. Later, you delete the object and forget to update the Actions that refer to that object. Does ToolBook notice? No way!

        Try this:

        Add a field to the page and name it "test". Add a button, and open the Actions Editor for the button. Add a "Display Alert" action, and set it to display the text of the field. Now delete the field, and validate the Actions in your book - ToolBook says "She's alright, mate!"

    • Is this a problem? You bet! With errors like these, your book won't export. And the error messages it gives you are usually too obscure to figure out what is going on.

    • The Solution: ToolBook doesn't notice these errors because it doesn't look INSIDE expressions in Actions when it validates them. But the Actions Deep Validation Tool does!

The Actions Deep Validation Tool replaces the built-in "Validate Actions" dialog. It looks and functions in exactly the same way, except that it has an additional option - "Perform Deep Validation" (see image below). If this option is selected (and it will be, by default) then an extra step is performed during validation - looking inside each expression in your actions to ensure THEY are also valid. If the option is not selected, the validation occurs exactly as it used to.

Why Do I Need the Actions Deep Validation Tool?

As we've already seen, the Validate Actions functionality built into ToolBook only does half the job. Many ToolBookers aren't able to export their books because of errors that aren't detected by the standard Validate Actions functionality. The Actions Deep Validation Tool finds those errors so you can correct them before you export.

How Does the Actions Deep Validation Tool Work During Development?

In a word... Transparently. The Validate Actions dialog looks and functions in exactly the same way as you're already used to. The only difference is the addition of a new option that lets you turn "deep validation" on and off (why would you ever want to turn it off? If you have a very large book, you may not want to perform a deep validation every time you validate Actions in the book. Looking inside expressions in every Action in the book slows down the validation processes).

Even better, if the Perform Deep Validation option is turned on, then deep validation will occur on every Action you select in the Actions Editor. When you select an Action in the Actions Editor, the status bar displays Action OK if the Action is valid. Otherwise it displays an error message indicating what is wrong with the Action. Normally, even here, ToolBook doesn't look inside expressions in your Action. But with the Deep Validation Tool installed and active, it does! Useful error messages will display in the status bar when there are errors within expressions in the Action.

Actions Deep Validation Tool Features

  • Available for ToolBook Instructor 8.9 (2004).

  • Easy to use, as you simply continue using the existing interface and it works behind the scenes.

  • Understands EVERY type of Action available in the Actions Editor

  • Finds errors in Actions that ToolBook by itself doesn't

  • Extremely easy to Install and use.

  • Guaranteed to work!

  • Frequently Asked Questions

Our Guarantee

If an invalid Action in your book causes an error during export, and the Actions Deep Validation Tool doesn't detect the Action as invalid, then send me your book (if you are able to) or just the page that contains the invalid Action (if you track it down that far) and I will update the tool to detect that error (if it's at all possible), and send you the updated tool for free.

Fix Eolas - Click to activate...

Just when you thought it was safe to pick up the tech support phone...

Ouch :-( Microsoft, having lost a patent dispute with Eolas, has modified launching ActiveX controls through Internet Explorer to require a click for embedded content such as Flash, or Media like vector graphics. Big deal...what does this mean to you???

Here is what it means...if your exported ToolBook project requires ActiveX controls such as Flash or Windows Media Player, when your users mouse over the item in Internet Explorer they will get this tool tip message:

"Click to activate and use this control".

Or perhaps:

"Press ok to continue loading the content of this page".

Damn, that's annoying - your user is thinking!

So, what is going on anyway? Basically, Microsoft lost a patent dispute with Eolas (a software company), regarding embedding media in webpages. So, the way that ActiveX Controls used to be processed by Internet Explorer no longer can work the way that they did. When you or your end users update their computers with the latest MS updates, this change will be updated on your computer and your end users will be required to click for any interaction with embedded media. Wow! We are supposed to be encouraging our users to take our training - not discouraging them from it!

So...What can you do?

One alternative is to disable this feature by applying the Compatibility Patch for Internet Explorer for Windows XP Service Pack 2. This patch reverts the IE Active X update behaviour contained in the April 2006 Security update.

How Does the Fix Eolas Work During Development?

Turn on the fix Eolas from the "Special Actions and Export Options" dialog available from the tools menu:

 

Then select "Update Web Export for EOLAS changes in Internet Explorer". From then on, it's working silently in the background, when your export is finished and before the preview dialog your exported files will be updated, including the manifest file used by your LMS.

Fix Eolas Features

  • Automatically updates all HTML pages in your ie5 export folder.

  • No need to remember run another process after the export

  • Automatically updates the manifest file required by your LMS.

Exported GIF Palette Optimizer

The Problem: Sometimes when you export your book to HTML, your attractive graphics look terrible. For bitmaps and draw objects, the colors are sometimes completely wrong. This is because whenever ToolBook exports an object that requires chromakey to be turned on (a bitmap with chromakey turned on, or when ToolBook exports a draw object as a graphic - the default behavior), ToolBook exports it as a 256 color GIF. ToolBook has to construct a palette to apply to that GIF, and it just uses the current book's palette, or a standard Windows palette if the book doesn't have a palette already defined. It makes no attempt to create an palette optimized for your graphic.

Consider the following scenarios:

You create a cool effect with a tiled checkerboard background backdrop: When you export, you get the result you're probably expecting, but not wanting: But all is well of you export with the option to fix the palette of GIFs turned on:
You use ToolBook draw objects such as ellipses and polygons to add effects to your book. When you export them, the colors are completely wrong. In ToolBook, it might look something like this (this is just a bunch of irregular polygons shaped like stars): When exported, all your hard work is wasted: Turn on the option to fix the palette of GIFs created during Web Export, and you can breathe a sigh of relief:
You have a 24-bit image that uses chromakey for transparency effects. In ToolBook, it would look something like this: When you export your book, all subtlety of shading is lost: Turn on the option to fix the palette of GIFs created during Web Export, and see the difference:

A note on cel animations: If you use ToolBook's Path Animation feature to create cel animations, the palette optimizer does create optimize palettes of the images used in the cel animation at export time.  However, during the AXF to DHTML stage, these images are combined into a single large image, and a hard coded palette is applied.  As this occurs in Java code, there is no way for the palette optimizer to intercept and create an image with an optimized palette.

Why do I need the Exported GIF Palette Optimizer?

If you've ever encountered problems with the colors of graphics and draw objects after you've exported your ToolBook book's to HTML, then you already know the answer!
 

How Does the Exported GIF Palette Optimizer Work During Development?

Turn on the Exported GIF Palette Optimizer from the "Special Actions and Export Options" dialog available from the tools menu.

The select "Fix color palette of GIFs created during Web Export", when you do this the first time you will see:

From then on, it's working silently in the background, as you export, ensuring that all images exported as GIFs during the HTML export process are created with an optimal palette.

Please note that this new functionality is achieved via a special DLL I had commissioned and is installed in your ToolBook runtime folder. The DLL - OptimizePalette.dll is not redistributable - thank you.

Exported GIF Palette Optimizer Features

  •  Available for ToolBook Instructor 2004

  •  Set and forget - works behind the scenes as you export

  •  Determines the optimal palette to use in every scenario where ToolBook would normally just fall back on a default palette

Specifications

The Special Actions Export Options Tool is currently available for ToolBook 2004 (including SP1, SP2 and SP3). It may be released for earlier versions of ToolBook if there is sufficient demand.

Special Actions Export Options Tool™ Price

$249 per Developer LicenseQuantity Discounts are available

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